Orange Order confirms cancellation of Twelfth of July parades
The Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland said that alternative ways to mark the date this year will be explored.
The annual Twelfth of July demonstrations will not be held this year, the Orange Order has confirmed.
In a statement issued on Monday, Wor. Bro. Edward Stevenson, the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said the decision has been taken in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, is in line with Government health advice on self-isolation, social distancing and restrictions on gatherings of people. It follows consultation with the Grand Masters of England and Scotland, local County Masters and senior officers.
As a result, parades at 17 venues across Northern Ireland and in Rossnowlagh in Donegal will now not go ahead.
“It is with regret that I must cancel the 2020 Boyne Anniversary Parades,” Stevenson said.
“In the face of the growing crisis surrounding Coronavirus it is in the best interests of our members, their families and the wider community that this decision has been made.
“In the current circumstances, the gathering of hundreds of thousands of Orangemen and women, together with their accompanying bands and spectators, would not be responsible.
“I appreciate that our culture and traditions are very much a way of life for the Orange family, however, in light of the current situation, we must prioritise the safety of not only our members, but of the entire community.
“For some, the coming days will be extremely painful. We must bear in mind that for many people there will be no return of normal life. They will have lost loved ones.
“The Orange Family has already lost members to this terrible virus whilst others are currently in hospital. I would encourage you to pray for all those who have been or will be affected by the Coronavirus and for those in our health service and other essential jobs who are working so hard to fight it.”
Twelfth of July parades have been cancelled on previous occasions, such as during the first and second World Wars and during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.
As was the case in those instances, the Orange Order will explore alternative ways to mark the date this year.
“We will look at alternative ways the Twelfth of July can be appropriately marked in 2020, following the guidelines and restrictions applicable at that time,” Stevenson added.
“We look forward to the day that we can parade in celebration once again, however in the months ahead it is more important we work together to fight this terrible disease.
“The energies and resources of our Institution are focussed on the fight against Coronavirus. I pray that God will protect and lead us through the months ahead.”